10 NFL rookies who'll shine in 2010 - By Rotoworld's Chris Wesseling
Nate Allen, Eagles FS
Allen was shoved into the spotlight in early June when veteran free agent signee Marlin Jackson tore his Achilles' tendon. Rather than revisit last year's follies at free safety, the Eagles immediately installed their second-round pick as the starter opposite Quintin Mikell. Allen will make his fair share of rookie mistakes, but he has the instincts and ballhawking ability to succeed.
Eric Berry, Chiefs SS
Enter the magic elixir at No. 5 overall. Drawing comparisons to All-Pros Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, Berry was a consensus top-five talent. A sure tackler with elite athleticism, Berry will open the season as the starting strong safety. The Jim Thorpe Award winner is the total package as a can't-miss safety.
Jahvid Best, Lions RB
Echoing Brad Childress' intentions to get Percy Harvin involved early and often last season, Schwartz insisted that he won't "spoon-feed" his rookie. With Kevin Smith returning from a late-season ACL injury, Best is expected to see 15-20 touches per week. The draft's fastest back will be a difference-maker in space, taking advantage of Ford Field's artificial surface as well as coordinator Scott Linehan's tailor-made screen calls. Think Harvin and Chris Johnson.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys WR
The Cowboys are pushing Bryant into a big role as a rookie. It will be even bigger once they realize that Roy Williams doesn't hold a candle to the rookie's explosiveness off the line, hands, and catch radius. This is a high-impact player in what may be the league's most dominant offense throughout 2010.
Montario Hardesty, Browns RB
The big back made an immediate impression on Browns coaches during offseason practices with his pass blocking, receiving, maturity, and mistake-free play. The Browns' run-blocking is better than advertised, and Hardesty may well have the upper hand on Harrison entering training camp.
Kareem Jackson, Texans CB
The 20th overall pick benefited from starting 40 games in three years for Nick Saban's pro-style scheme at Alabama. Jackson has already made a favorable impression on coach Gary Kubiak, who deemed him "way ahead" of where most rookies are in offseason work. The Texans will build their secondary around Jackson and second-year corner Glover Quin.
Ryan Matthews, Chargers RB
Coach Norv Turner has also prescribed a heavy workload of 250 carries and 40 receptions for the rookie. Even with All-Pro caliber receiver Vincent Jackson set to miss a good portion of the season, Philip Rivers' down-field marksmanship will open up the running lanes for Mathews' fresh legs.
Rolando McClain, Raiders MLB
The "standout from the beginning" among Raiders rookies, McClain has reportedly been a "beast" in the middle during offseason practices. With a reputation as a film junkie who controlled the entire defense at Alabama, McClain also brings a high football IQ. He's the heavy favorite to lead all rookie defenders in tackles.
Earl Thomas, Seahawks S
The new coaching staff is expected to play more Cover 3 (single safety) and rely on Thomas to cover ground in the back end while corners apply press coverage on the perimeter. His ball skills and anticipation are the perfect antidote for a defense that rarely forced turnovers.
Mike Williams, Bucs WR
A big, physical receiver providing breakaway speed, deep-ball skills, and a presence in the red zone, Williams' circus catches appeared to vault him past second-rounder Arrelious Benn in offseason practices. With a better grasp of the offense and more natural ability, Williams is a better than Benn to emerge as the No. 1 receiver.